"If you have several Google Homes in your house today, it sometimes answers in the wrong place," Chandra said. That was one of my biggest complaints about the assistant, and I vehemently agreed when he spoke. Luckily, Chandra is aware of the problem and said, "We're working on it."
"But that, I think, sums up the problem," he added.
Chandra believes that two key pieces are missing. "One is a connectivity layer that actually connects all of these devices to share the context in a trusted and secure way," he said. This layer can be WiFi, Bluetooth Low Energy, or Threaded Radio, a low-power, network-initiated network protocol.
The second missing part, according to Chandra, is a messaging system. "It has to be able to handle:" Oh, here are all the signals I understand, here's the correct output, "he explained. For example, the next time you're in your kitchen and asking your Google homepage for a cookie recipe, the steps should be displayed on the Nest Hub rather than on your phone, for example.
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Ideally, these decisions for Chandra would be made locally at home instead of relying on the Google Cloud. Processing on the device is a focus of the Face Match tool featured on Google's Hub Hub Max announced in May. The Smart Display camera searches for faces of people in front of them to view personalized information and notifications. During the launch, Google emphasized that the data involved in this discovery process remains on Hub Max.
This means that your data (in this case, images of your face) will not be sent to the cloud for processing and will be verified on your device itself. This minimizes the likelihood that people will intercept and retrieve your information. The idea not only has privacy benefits. Google is already planning to fully deploy the next-generation wizard on your phone without relying on an Internet connection. "We do not stop talking on the phone," said Chandra. "We want to continue finding out how we can transfer many of the wizard's items to as many devices as possible to leverage that value of intelligence in-house."
With a powerful and secure context engine, smart home businesses can focus on providing helpful and intuitive experiences. One of the improvements or shifts Chandra wants to see is the shift from social personal computing – your phone that's just there for you – to community computing. In this case, you have a device in your house that should be used by several people sharing your space.
"We need to understand and respond to the context of multiple people in the house," said Chandra. For example, when he hears music himself, he wants the device to play his favorite songs. When one of his children enters the room, he wants it to be smart enough not to play anything explicit.
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"That's the next thing we have to build," said Chandra. And a key component is to make the transitions between personal and community life seamless. But how can Google do this? "We will not ask users to sign in and out," said Chandra. He refers to some Google technologies as some of these building blocks – Voice Match for home speakers and Face Match for the Nest Hub Max.
There must also be a unified platform to reduce the friction and frustration of consumers buying devices from different companies. "Here I see the biggest innovation," said Chandra. He recalled a time when web developers had to code four different versions of their web sites for the many different browsers and rendering engines users used. The industry then followed the W3C-standardized protocols for web design. Chandra believes that something similar has to happen for the smart home.
Other companies are basically in agreement. Yianni said that in the future "we expect more consolidation". De Masi said that the future of the IoT can not consist of different products, each controlled by its own app. The good news is it sounds closer than ever to a simple, unified smart home.